Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs/animals are protected under the ADA, and Fair Housing Authority.

That does not mean that everyone with a prescription can bring in a dog or any other animal, inspite of your no pet policy. There are rights and then there are responsibilities. Unfortunately there are people that claim they have rights, but refuse to take the responsibility.

If someone tells you they have a Service Dog, that means that they have one or more disabilities, and their dog has been specifically trained to perform tasks that help with their disability. It also means their dog will not be aggressive, they will not growl or bark inappropriately. They will not only be house broken, they will only go potty when and where they are told to. Service Dogs are very costly animals. They have months to years of training. You will not see a Service Dog out running the streets without their owner. That does not mean they might not escape once in a while. It would not be a regular occurrence. These people have the right to use their dog in public. That means their handler would seldom leave without their dog.

Emotional Support dogs/animals are also covered by prescription. The person must have a specific disability. These animals only have rights to housing. They do not qualify for public access. This animal does not have to be a dog.

The landlord may not charge a fee or deposit for the use of a Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog/Animal. However if the animal does cause damage to the property, the tenant may be liable for those expenses.

Companion Animals/Pets: The person does not have a specific disability. Their dog/animal can be there simply to keep them from being alone. Even though there is an emotional benefit from this animal it is not covered under the Fair Housing Act.

http://www.bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=mHq8GV0FI4c%3D&tabid=245

These animals can not be considered a danger to others. They can not be aggressive, or unruly. If they bark or otherwise disturb other tenants, are not housebroken, the person may qualify, but the animal does not.

Tenants are always responsible for any and all damages done, including by their dog. As a Landlord you have a right to protect your property from damage.

Not only does the ADA and Fair Housing protect your rights as a property owner. There are usually City, County, State ordinances that you can incorporate into your guidelines.

You can make written rules that comply with these ordinances and laws.

Example:
(dog here means Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal specifically)
   Anyone requesting the use of a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal shall provide specific documentation as allowed by law.
   All dogs/animals must be housebroken.
   All dogs/animals must have proof of current vaccinations, and health examination.
   All dogs/animals must be on a leash at all times, when outside of their housing. If caught running loose, they will be turned over to the local authority.
   All dogs/animals must use the pet area only to go potty.
   All poop must be picked up and properly disposed of.
   No dogs/animals will be allowed to disturb other residents by excessive noise. If your dog is barking we will assume there is an emergency and respond accordingly.
   Aggressive dogs/animals will not be allowed. Snarling, growling, barking, snapping, and biting are  all considered signs of aggression.
   Dogs/animals may not damage the property. Owners will be held responsible for any and all damages done by their dog/animal.
   All dogs/animals are to be kept clean and treated in a humane manner. All cases of abuse or neglect will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
  
For tenant to get approval for reasonable accommodation, they must provide documentation that they require a service dog, or emotional support animal. This documentation demonstrates that the landlord is enforcing their pet restrictions, and that the tenant has been granted reasonable accommodation in accordance with fair housing laws.

If you are concerned that an animal is causing damage to your property, you have a right to inspect your property, with appropriate notice. 


Consult your attorney if there is any doubt about the laws or cases in your own jurisdiction.


http://www.fairhouse.net/library/article.php?id=18
http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v7n2/7n2hende.htm#FHAA
http://timberlys-all-about-service-dogs.tripod.com/sdlawsbystate.html
http://www.bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=mHq8GV0FI4c%3D&tabid=245
http://www.hoalawblog.com/2010/11/what_are_homeowners_rights_reg_1.html
                                
Still have questions. Contact us for more information.
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